What is Superannuation? It’s money put aside and saved whilst you work so that you can enjoy a regular income when you have retired. The money comes from contributions made into your super fund by your employer. You make investment choices in your managed fund that help grow your nest egg to live off. It is compulsory for employers to make superannuation contributions for their employees in addition to wages and salaries. You may also make your own contributions or contributions on behalf of your spouse.
The percentage of employer contributions currently sits at 9.5% and has since 1 July 2014. This will gradually increase to 12% by 2025.
Four main regulatory bodies keep watch over superannuation funds to ensure they comply with legislation:
- Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is responsible for ensuring that superannuation funds behave in a prudent manner
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) ensures that the trustees of superannuation funds comply with their obligations regarding the provision of information to members during membership
- Australian Taxation Office (ATO) ensures that self-managed superannuation funds adhere to the rules and regulations and makes sure that the right amount of tax is taken from superannuation savings of all Australians
- Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) administers the Superannuation (resolution of Complaints) Act. This act provides for the formal process of the resolution of complaints and only deals with complaints when no satisfactory resolution has been reached.
Insurance cover under a Superannuation fund
Most Super funds offer different types of insurance for their members. This can include income protection/salary continuance, total and temporary disablement and total and permanent disablement. Insurance is not compulsory and you should make an informed decision as to whether you require insurance and how much. If you do not make a choice your superannuation provider will set up a default insurance choice and payments will automatically deduct from your superannuation balance. Always check that you have the right insurances to meet your needs.
Early access to your Superannuation
There are limited circumstances under which you can access your superannuation funds before you reach preservation age:
- Severe financial hardship
- Compassionate grounds
- Terminal medical condition (tax not applicable)
You need to seriously consider whether you need to access your superannuation early as there may be financial consequences for you now an in the future. You will also pay tax, currently 22% on any amount you withdraw from your fund.
For more information on the early release of superannuation go to the Department of Human Services website at www.humanservices.gov.au and type early superannuation release into the search engine.
Eligibility for access to preserved benefits depends on a worker’s preservation age. Once a person reaches preservation age they must meet a condition of release to access their super. Before age 60, workers must cease employment and sign off that they never intend to work again (not work more than 40 hours in a 30 day period). Those aged 60-65 can access their super if they cease employment regardless of their future employment prospects as long as they are not working at the time.
|Date of Birth||Preservation age|
|Before 1 July 1960||55|
|1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961||56|
|1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962||57|
|1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963||58|
|1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964||59|
|After 30 June 1964||60|
The Financial Information Service available through the Department of Human Services, is a free service and available to help you to make informed decision about your retirement and how you can increase your overall retirement income.
To speak with a Financial Information Service officer for information on financial issues call 132 300 or to attend a free seminar call 135 357.
If you are experiencing financial hardship and would like information on whether you are eligible or how to go about applying for your Superannuation, you can call Midlas on 9250 2123 for a free and confidential financial counselling appointment. If you don’t live in the Perth Metropolitan area you can access the Financial Counsellors Association of WA’s website at www.financialcounsellors.org or the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to search for a local service.
Midlas Mission: We partner with individuals and organisations to promote independence, strength and wellbeing in our community through support, advocacy and education.